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Cheryl Kempf is a survivor of acquired brain injury, ABI and PTSD. Her anoxic event in 1994 left her with partial numbness and no therapy or rehabilitation plans upon her hospital release. That led to her first speaking topic, “What Do You See When You Look at Me?” Her work at the Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services, DARS, led to her being mentored as a speaker for brain injury and disability.
She chaired the Traumatic Brain Injury Advisory Council (TBIAC) during that time. In 2012, returning home from chairing a TBIAC meeting, she was detained by law enforcement. The resulting arrest and PTSD led to her advocacy for law enforcement education on recognizing and positive response to brain injury and PTSD. That became a Texas law in 2015, HB 1338, 84(R), Naishtat. That became her speaking and advocacy subject “To Be Different Is Not To Be Guilty”.
In 2016 Cheryl took her advocacy to other states and Washington, DC. She has advocated independently, and worked with the Brain Injury Alliance of Texas, who awarded her the Tom Dean Humanitarian Award in 2016, participated in Brain Injury Association of America’s Brain Injury Day on Capitol Hill, was part of the 2020 Congressional Briefing on Brain Injury and worked with the National Association of State Head Injury Administrators, NASHIA, as a consultant and member of the Public Policy Committee.
In August 2022, Congress passed HR 2992, The Brain Injury and PTSD Law Enforcement Training Act, the federal law Cheryl has advocated for since 2016.
In September 2022, The National Association of State Head Injury Administrators awarded her with their William A.B.Ditto Excellence in Public Policy Award.
She continues her advocacy with the new opportunities NASHIA and the Department of Justice, DOJ are currently funding.
A narrative of her brain injury work can be found at her website, CherylsWords.com